Planning a shift to an advocacy strategy

Clock Tower Sanctuary
Consultant: David Bull

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David Bull

“We were looking for someone with external experience and thought it would be interesting to get David’s take on our challenges, based on what he had achieved elsewhere. However, he went beyond that and looked at our spe-cific strengths and challenges, rather than trying to get us to simply apply something he had done with another charity. He definitely added value.”

Rob Kidd, Chair, Clock Tower Sanctuary

Clock Tower Sanctuary (CTS) is a small but well known and highly regarded local charity, based in Brighton, which provides a lifeline for young people who find themselves denied secure accommodation. CTS runs a centre where young people can access advice and training and get meals, have a shower and meet others who face similar challenges. During the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, their Centre was forced to close, while the young people they work with were accommodated in hotels, raising concerns about the impacts of lockdown on their mental and physical health.

Pearl of Wisdom:
Phone A Friend – a two hour phone call with David Bull, a hugely experienced consultant with 32 years as CEO of international charities including Amnesty International UK and Unicef UK.

CTS has been around for 21 years and they are aware that there are limits to how many young people they can reach and the services they are able to provide. They have been thinking about how they could help to ensure that, in 21 more years, their services would no longer be needed. This would mean a shift in the balance of their work towards advocacy, bringing their exceptional knowledge, and the voices of their young users, into policy dialogue locally and nationally. How should they go about this?

David spent two hours with the Chair of Trustees and the Chief Executive of CTS, exploring their issues and strengths, including the challenges and opportunities arising from the Covid-19 pandemic, but mostly focusing on the original brief to explore the advocacy strategy.

David left the CTS with a methodology that they can use internally to plan an advocacy strategy. This walks them through the following process:

  • Defining the long-term goal and focus?
  • Thinking through immediate and longer-term campaign objectives.
  • Identifying the key decision makers you need to influence, and the influencers they listen to.
  • Making the case for change, based on service user experience, stories, case studies and research.
  • Selecting the most effective channels to reach the most important audiences.
  • Devising campaign actions that supporters can get involved in.
  • Building alliances with others who share your change objectives.
  • Monitoring, evaluation and learning so you know what’s working and can build on that to do better in the future.

Consultant’s insight:
The shift towards advocacy would mean a significant strategic change for CTS and raises many questions. How much of their scarce funding should they devote to advocacy? Is it possible to raise funds specifically to support that work? How could they work with young people to enable their voices to be heard? What are the priorities for policy change and how would they work with others who are also campaigning for those changes?

There is clearly a limit to how far we could go in a two hour call, but I believe the CTS now has the tools and the confidence to develop an advocacy strategy that can remove the long-term need for their services.

About Pearls of Wisdom

Pearls of Wisdom is our campaign to mark the 30th anniversary of Action Planning, for which we have given away £100,000 worth of free consultancy, spread over 56 separate packages. You can read more about it here.

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